Almost as famous as Carrie Underwood’s singing voice are her sculpted, toned legs, but what exactly does she do to get in such good shape? To find out more, I set aside some time one morning to try out one of Underwood’s leg-day workouts. Read on to find out what happened next.
I’ll caveat this article by saying, as a fitness editor, I’m no stranger to a fitness challenge. I recently did 100 dead bugs a day for a week, before that I tried 30 sit-ups a day for 30 days. And as a runner, I run and strength train a few times a week. If you are a complete beginner, it’s a good idea to start with bodyweight exercises or to speak to a personal trainer to ensure you’re getting your form right before adding weights.
Luckily for me, Carrie Underwood’s long-time personal trainer, Eve Overland, has shared a lot of the star’s leg workouts over the years, which definitely took some of the guesswork out of this experiment. I followed one of the workouts Overland has uploaded onto her Instagram page after a five-mile run to really torch my legs.
What is Carrie Underwood’s leg workout?
Of course, the secret to building lean muscle is to mix up your workouts (so no, you shouldn’t be doing a squat challenge), eat well, and get enough rest and recovery. In an interview with Women’s Health in 2020, Underwood said her leg workout consisted of six supersets of three moves, each done for three or four sets. The exercises listed included tuck jumps, Romanian deadlifts, walking lunges, and elevated sumo squats.
The workout shared by her trainer, which I tried for this article, went as follows:
This routine requires you to have a set of dumbbells (check out the best adjustable dumbbells for weight training at home), a Bosu ball and a step. The workout is in supersets, which is when you do a certain number (in this workout 2-3) of exercises back to back, without taking a rest.
(Complete three rounds)
Heel elevated dumbbell squats: 12-15 reps, rest 30 seconds
Dumbbell cross-over step-up: 10 reps on each side, rest 10 seconds
Touchdowns: 12 reps on each leg, rest 1 minute
(Complete 3 rounds)
Dumbbell deficit sumo deadlifts: 12-15 reps, rest 30 seconds
Bosu dome-up bodyweight single-leg deadlifts: 10 reps on each leg, rest 10 seconds
Bosu up-and-overs: 12 reps on each leg, rest 1 minute
(Complete 3 rounds)
Single-leg dumbbell box squats to forward lunge combo: 8-10 reps on each leg, rest 30 seconds
Log hops: 12 reps on each side, rest 1 minute
I tried Carrie Underwood’s leg workout — here’s what happened
The supersets worked my legs hard
Approximately 30 seconds into this workout, I regretted running five miles before heading to the gym. The heel-elevated dumbbell squats forced me to target my quads, which felt pretty shaky by the end of the first superset. This circuit is no joke, and the supersets are designed to save time by working one major muscle group hard, before moving on to the next.
For the first superset, I held a 5kg weight in each hand. When it comes to selecting the right weight for you and your workouts, remember that the weight should make the exercise feel challenging by the final few reps, but not impossible. At no point should the weight compromise your form.
As always, if you're new to exercise, or you're returning to exercise following an injury, it's a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before adding weights to the move.
I had to work hard to control the wobble on the Bosu ball
The added wobble of the Bosu ball forced my legs to work harder to keep me balanced, and I didn’t look anywhere near as smiley as Overland did in the demonstration video.
There are a number of benefits to working out using a Bosu ball, the main one being your muscles have to work harder to keep your body stable as you stand on the ball. The instability of the Bosu ball forces the small muscles in your core to really engage, meaning you get a core workout, even when you're targeting the muscles in your legs. Result!
I need to work on my pistol squats
The final superset reminded me how much I need to work on my single-leg squats, also known as pistol squats. While I was able to pistol squat on my right left (albeit with a slight wobble), my weaker left leg was definitely a challenge.
The combo move forced me to slow down and really focus on my form throughout the movement, before hammering my legs with the log hops. It was a good leg workout, and I definitely felt I’d worked my lower body hard as I left the gym.
Of course, I didn’t wake up the next day with Carrie Underwood’s sculpted pins, but this workout was a welcomed reminder that muscle growth often requires weight and strength training, as well as cardio. Reading interviews with Underwood, she definitely trains hard and eats well. So don’t expect to do this workout and see a difference overnight, although I’ll warn you, getting down the stairs the next day might be a challenge.